All to play for heading into Halifax Cricket League’s final weekend

It’s not often that on the last day of the season, in every division of the ENCO Halifax Cricket League, there is still something to fight for.
Cricket - SBCI v Triangle. Triangle batsman Tom Watson.Cricket - SBCI v Triangle. Triangle batsman Tom Watson.
Cricket - SBCI v Triangle. Triangle batsman Tom Watson.

As we approach the last weekend of the 2021 season the only title decided at first team level is Division Two - congratulations to Greetland.

Both the Premiership and First Division can be won by three different sides and the promotion places for Division One and Division Two are also up for grabs.

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At the bottom of the Premiership any one of three clubs can join Shelf Northowram Hedge Top in the relegation shute.

The Halifax League Premier Division title race was blown wide open at The Astley’s where SBCI routed league leaders Triangle.

Winning the toss and inviting Triangle to bat skipper Simon Wood appeared keen to expose Triangle’s recent batting fragility made even more brittle by the absences of Kurtis Whippey and Carl Fletcher. Triangle have struggled to set a platform in recent weeks and this game was no different, losing Nathan Madden, Tom Watson and Dan Crosland for just 12 runs.

Skipper Adam Stocks, often Triangle’s anchor, did his level best to stop his ship from drifting onto the Premiership rocks, but when he fell with the score on 27 and then Josh Graham followed three balls later Triangle’s lack of resilience and defensive resolve was punished.

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Alex Schofield and Oliver Benson, SBCI’s opening pair, were in tremendous form serving up what can only be described as a masterclass in pace bowling offering both swing and movement off the seam. After Zach Rushton’s cameo at number 11 had ended with 12 from seven balls, Benson had finished with 4-37 and Schofield a match winning 6-22. Lacking the cutting edge of Whippey’s pace Triangle bowled well but with no real incision and SBCI eased to a nine wicket win, Tom Wood finishing unbeaten on 41.

Mytholmroyd were the beneficiaries of Triangle’s folly and from being title also rans a few weeks ago now find themselves at the top of the Premiership tree with just one game to go. Facing a difficult encounter at Bradshaw, also in a battle but at the opposite end of the table, Royd were put into bat. The top order failed to fire but Luke Sutcliffe (35), Jack Earle (50) and Tom Conway (40) pulled them through to maximum batting points and a total of 187.

Bradshaw claimed a valuable three bowling points and Si Collins helped himself to another Premiership five wicket haul. In reply Bradshaw capitulated with no batter reaching double figures and the last four batsman scoring 0.

Taufeeq Ahmed was the architect of Bradshaw’s downfall finishing with 6-15 and Jack Earle a tidy 3-4. The defeat plunges Bradshaw further into the relegation mire and into the bottom two and they will need to bat with more intent on the final week of the season if they are to avoid the Premiership trap door.

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Booth are clinging on to a hope of their fourth title in six years after defeating Blackley by 54 runs at Broad Fold Park. Blackley won the toss and elected to field and the decision quickly bore fruit as Hasnain Wajid played all round a straight ball from Liam Senior with the score on 30. When Rob Laycock was caught at slip by Captain Michael Midwood off an outside edge for just four and the score on 44, Blackley had a chance. But the tenacity of young Hashim Wajid and the experience of Rick Laycock took the score from 44 to 136 before Laycock fell to an excellent delivery from Bilal Sheraz. Wajid ended his innings on 74 and Patrick Thomas blasted 57 from just 37 balls to set Blackley a daunting target of 256. Blackley, however, have a real fighting spirit these days and realising bonus points are vital dug in. Ibbi Mir (46), Matt Britton (34) and Macauley Shiel (38) all contributed but it was the 50 not out from U18 George Barton that secured Blackley vital batting points in their battle against the drop.

Sowerby Bridge’s recent batting exploits have been nothing short of woeful so it may have come as a surprise to the Bridge faithful when skipper Tim Helliwell chose to don his batting pads after winning the toss at home. A steady start to proceedings saw Helliwell and Tom Belfield set a solid if unspectacular platform but fans must have feared the worst when four wickets fell in quick succession plunging Bridge from 26 for 0 to 46-4. Chris Metcalfe hasn’t had the best of seasons but he steadied a very shaky Sowerby ship and took the score to 92 before he too fell for 32. Vital cameos from Josh Wood (26), James Taylor (28), Jake Dixon (22no) and the returning Paul Smith (22) meant Sowerby Bridge ended on a respectable 184-9 and maximum batting points.

Shelf Northowram Hedge Top’s season has never got going and despite a solid 23 from Razwan Saghir it was the same old story. Wickets fell at regular intervals and Man of the Match Jake Dixon had an excellent day at the Walton Street office closing with five wickets for just 11 runs off eight overs.

Sowerby Bridge have at least given themselves a chance of redemption at Blackley next week and an opportunity to avoid a quick relegation back to Division One.

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It was an exciting game at Alloe Field View, where Illingworth hosted a newly resurgent Copley.

Illingworth’s batting has been its Achilles heel for the whole of the 2021 season and is the main reason the team sit mid-table. Starting poorly at 31-3 skipper Matty Smith once again had to lead from the front. His 60 stopped the rot and he found a willing partner in U17 Jake Fellows (28).

Luke Brooksby finally found his batting boots and hit 41 in 39 balls, the innings closing in 194-6. In reply Copley lost wickets at key times and they could never quite get on the front foot. Alex Rowles was the star of the show scoring 63 from 77 balls but his departure with the score on 155 just checked the innings at a vital time and Copley could never quite recover the momentum. Jamie Moorhouses’ five for 58 the standout performance in the match, Illingworth winning by just six runs.

The final game took place at Warley who hosted Thornton. Warley’s batting hasn’t really fired over recent weeks so it must have pleased the Paradise Lane crowd when Nolan Bottomley moved back up to the opening berth. It proved to be a massive success as he marshalled his way to 78 supported by Faheem Khatana (40). Others chipped in including skipper Greg Keywood (32) posting a respectable 249 all out. Thornton started slowly and when Josh Hutchinson came to the crease with around 25 overs left they were still needing nearly 200 runs. Hutchinson was dropped by Zeeshan Iqbal for 0 and subsequently dropped on a further four occasions whilst hitting 104 no, ably assisted by Greg Soames (49no), guiding Thornton to a six wicket win with four overs remaining.

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It was an identical narrative in Division One where league leaders Luddendenfoot imploded at home to Low Moor. Low Moor have underachieved in 2021, but they are a good side, and in Matthew Jordan (5-11) have possibly the best seam bowler outside of the Premiership. His unerring accuracy and nagging length make him a real handful on slowish decks and both he and Mark Stokes (4-15) took advantage of a Luddendenfoot batting line up who must have though the title was already in the bag. Six ducks later, with only Jacob Whitehouse (17) showing any resistance, the Luddendenfoot innings had collapsed for just 49. Low Moor’s reply was rocky to say the least losing James Overend and Kaden Lancaster for 0. Jason Gelder (30no) and Andrew Pinfield (10) got them close enough to stagger over the winning line finishing on 50-4. The only positive for Foot on the day was taking four Low Moor wickets and getting a bowling point - one which could prove vital after next weekend.

The other teams involved in the Division One title race played each other as Sowerby St Peters hosted Great Horton Park Chapel. Winning the toss and electing to field Sowerby were quick to rue the decision as first Ricky Hassall (102) and then skipper Adam Beasley (73no) put their bowling to the sword. A flurry of late wickets garnering SSP with two bowling points but at the cost of 228 runs. In response Sowerby were never really in the hunt. Always seemingly behind the run rate batsman got in but failed to push on, the best of which was Adam Clarke (33). Dom Anderson bowled well and finished with figures of 5-58 as Sowerby St Peters closed on 189-9 and a 39 run defeat. The game leaves the title race wide open, and as Great Horton host Luddendenfoot next week, the season will be decided at Ewart Street.

Oxenhope hosted Clayton and the game looked to be heading for an early finish when having won the toss and electing to bat they found themselves 1-4, Mitesh Mistry (4-39) and Sam Wilson (3-29) carving through the top order like a hot knife through very soft butter. Edward Jackson (19) offered some resistance alongside Alex Baker (15) but it was the introduction to the crease of wicketkeeper Chris Kibble (50no) and tail enders Will Rankin (32) and no.11 Liam Witney (45no) who propelled Oxenhope to a very respectable and unlikely 180-8. Clayton were always up with the run rate and looked to be heading for victory thanks to Will Edden (75no) but losing wickets at key times stalled the chase and the finished on 178-8, 2 runs shy of the Oxenhope total.

Upper Hopton and Mount played for pride only as both sides will be plying their trade in Division Two next season. Upper Hopton, winning the toss at home and electing to bat, posted a respectable 181 all out, Joseph Woodhouse the pick of the batters with 53. Amjad Hussain concluding his spell with 5-41 from 14 overs. In reply Mount again fell short with only stalwart Jabir Patel (52) and Hamza Nazir (27) putting up any fight, before the innings ended on 123 all out.

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The key match of Division Two came at Greetland who hosted Southowram. Both sides had something to play for, Greetland to be crowned Champions at home and Southowram needing to win to put themselves in pole position for promotion in the final week of the season. It was to be Greetland’s day but only after a wobble on the way to victory. Southowram won the toss and elected to bat but came up against two opening bowlers in Zafar Khan (7-38) and Waqas Ali (3-32) in inspired form.

The Southowram innings closed on 70 after only 17.4 overs. Greetland struggled against a determined attack but chasing such a low score a solid knock of 21 from Adil Hanif and 12 extras was enough to see them home for the loss of seven wickets. A big congratulations to Greetland who win the league and will ply their trade in Division One in 2022.

Stones beat Bradley and Colnebridge in a thriller at Swift Cross. Stones won the toss and elected to field. No one batsman scored highly for Bradley but an accumulation of quick runs took them to 170 all out with 12 overs remaining. Jack Westerby the pick of the Stones attack with 4-39. In reply Stones started well with Gary Hulme being the mainstay with 59 in 83 deliveries. Others chipped in but it fell to last pair Connor Walker (20no) and Alicia Pollard (0no) to see the hosts home and give them a last game chance of promotion to Division One.

Cullingworth beat Augustinians at home in what looked to begin with as a sedate run chase but quickly turned sour. Augustinians looked to be heading for a total under 100 before no.9 Khurram Shahzad hit 46 from 41 balls taking the Augustinians total to 155 all out from 40.4 overs. In reply a majestic but half century dodging 49 from veteran Richard Leach set up the Cullingworth response well and he was ably supported by Jack Rogers (34). However, wickets fell frequently and when Richard Nicholls was dismissed for five and Stuart Rogers went for a duck a moment of temporary panic set in. Step forth U13 George Leach, displaying the carefree attitude of youth, hitting 11no in 18 balls to see his side home to a three wicket win. Imran Khan the best of the Augustinians bowlers with 4-53.

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Leymoor won the toss against Old Town and elected to bat first. Andrew Raw (40) and Geoffrey Nuttall (24) got the Moor off to a great start but as has been the story of their season the depth of performance has just not been present and the Leymoor innings closed on 129 all out. For Old Town Jahangir Khan was once again amongst the wickets with 4-31 and Shakir Malik took 5-29.

Old Town’s run chase was never in doubt and they cruised to a four wicket win in just 29.2 overs, Adnaan Qamar top scoring with 43.

The match between Bridgeholme and Outlane was cancelled as Outlane conceded.

The Halifax League Tables can all be found on Play Cricket or via the Halifax Cricket League Play Cricket website.